Players’ fund set up to help struggling tennis professionals
A fund worth almost £5million has been created by seven of tennis’ major governing bodies to assist players suffering financially from the lack of competition.
The ATP and WTA tours have come together with the International Tennis Federation and the four grand slam tournaments to create the package of support.
With the professional game currently suspended until at least July 13, and many of the circuit relying on event earnings, up to 800 players have been identified as potential recipients.
The grand slam tournaments – Wimbledon as well as the Australian, French and US Opens – offer the biggest pay days of the year and have played their part in building the fund, which totals 6million US Dollars (£4.81m).
The ATP and WTA will take responsibility for distributing the payments, which will be split equally between the respective tours. Prior performance will be an important factor in determining how much an individual is likely to be in line for.
A statement read: “The Player Relief Programme will target a total of approximately 800 ATP/WTA singles and doubles players collectively, in need of financial support.
“Eligibility for the Player Relief Programme will take into account a player’s ranking as well as previous prize money earnings according to criteria agreed by all stakeholders.
“The creation of the Player Relief Programme is a positive demonstration of the sport’s ability to come together during this time of crisis.
“We will continue to collaborate and monitor the support required across tennis with the aim of ensuring the long-term health of the sport in the midst of this unprecedented challenge to our way of life, and our thoughts remain with all those affected at this time.”
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal believes the 2020 tennis season is “practically lost” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The ATP and WTA tours have already been severely affected by the crisis, with the French Open postponed and Wimbledon cancelled while doubts remain over the US Open.
“I hope we can return before the end of the year but unfortunately, I don’t think so,” Nadal said in Spanish newspaper El Pais.
“I would sign up to being ready for 2021. I’m more worried about the Australian Open than what occurs at the end of this year. I think 2020 is practically lost.
“I hope we can start up again next year, I really hope that’s the case. My feeling and I say it sadly, I won’t lie to you, is that we’re losing a year of our lives.
“And at 33, 34 years old, that is more valuable than at 20 when you have a lot more ahead.”